Meet the 2019 Red Bull Junior Team

While Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon have grabbed the headlines this summer, there’s more to the Red Bull driver programme than just their Formula 1 stable. We take a look at each of their upcoming young talents, from karting all the way to the F1 feeder series’.

Juri Vips

Juri Vips celebrating victory at the Red Bull Ring (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Juri Vips is perhaps the closest Red Bull junior to Formula One right now. The 19-year-old Estonian joined the programme ahead of last year’s Macau Grand Prix, after becoming an F4 champion in 2017 and finishing fourth in the 2018 European F3 series. He is currently driving for Hitech in FIA F3, and is running second with two victories to his name.

Patricio O’Ward

Patricio OWard racing Super Formula at Motegi (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Red Bull’s newest signing is Patricio O’Ward, winner of the 2017 WeatherTech Sportscar and 2018 Indy Lights championships. O’Ward has had a mixed 2019 so far, racing a part-time IndyCar entry with Carlin after losing his initial Harding Steinbrenner Racing drive due to sponsorship issues. With Red Bull backing he has since made appearances in F2 for MP Motorsport and Super Formula with Team Mugen.

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda driving for Jenzer at the Hungaroring (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

2018 Japanese F4 champion Yuki Tsunoda joined the Red Bull programme through his links with the Honda Formula Dream Project. Red Bull currently has the 19-year-old racing on the F1 support bill in FIA F3 with Jenzer Motorsport. Tsunoda is also driving for Team Motopark in the Euroformula Open series, where he is running fourth in the standings with one win.

Lucas Auer

Lucas Auer on his way to third at SUGO (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

24-year-old Austrian Lucas Auer is another one of Red Bull’s new 2019 signings. Auer has flirted with the pinnacle of motorsport already, having challenged for titles in Formula 3 and DTM and tested Force India’s F1 car in 2017. He has joined O’Ward in Super Formula for this year, and took his first podium of the series at Sportsland SUGO.

Liam Lawson

Liam Lawson in the FIA F3 paddock (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

New Zealander Liam Lawson joined Red Bull this year just a few days after his 17th birthday—and after securing the Toyota Racing Series title over Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong. Lawson has continued to race Armstrong in FIA F3 this year, driving for MP Motorsport. He is also placed third in Euroformula Open with two victories to his name.

Jack Doohan

Jack Doohan at the Red Bull Ring (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Son of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan, Jack Doohan has joined fellow Red Bull juniors Lawson and Tsunoda in this year’s Euroformula Open Championship. He is currently seventh in the standings with two second places and six other points finishes. Doohan has also taken multiple victories driving for Hitech in Asian F3 this year.

Dennis Hauger

Dennis Hauger celebrating victory in ADAC F4 (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

After a successful Formula 4 debut last year, Red Bull has rewarded 16-year-old Dennis Hauger with a dual programme in Italian F4 and ADAC F4 for 2019. Driving for Van Amersfoort Racing in both series’, the Norwegian driver has taken six wins and seven pole positions altogether this year and is currently second in the Italian standings.

Jonny Edgar

Jonny Edgar driving in the Italian F4 Championship (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

15-year-old British driver Jonny Edgar has stepped up to his first season of racing cars this year, driving for Jenzer Motorsport in the Italian F4 Championship. He is currently 13th in the standings after six points finishes, the best of which so far is a fifth place at the Hungaroring. Like Hauger, he is also entered in the ADAC F4 series.

Harry Thompson

Harry Thompson in the 2018 WSK Final Cup (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Having only turned 15 earlier this month, Harry Thompson is the youngest current member of the Red Bull Junior Team. After being named FIA Karting Rookie of the Year in 2018, Thompson is continuing his karting career this year in both European and British championships.

Interview with Harry Thompson: one of Red Bull’s youngest junior drivers

In a bid to reinvigorate their junior driver program, over the course of 2017, Red Bull recruited four young karters to its Junior Team. One of this select handful of up and coming talents is 13-year-old British karter, Harry Thompson, who becomes one of the youngest ever members of the programme.

We had the chance to speak with Harry about karting, Red Bull and his goals for the future.

Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool

“I started go karting at the age of 5…my Dad’s friend’s son had done karting and asked if I wanted to give it a go. Dad took me and I have been hooked ever since.”

Hooked, and successful too. Competing in the Cadet class of go karting, Thompson was the holder of several national titles by the age of 12, and took the step to the Junior class in 2017. This is where he caught the attention of Red Bull, who were keeping an eye on the international karting scene as part of their new strategy of looking beyond the usual junior single seater categories of motorsport to find their new star.

“After a few good performances, Red Bull showed interested. They invited me to have a drive on their simulator and after testing on the simulator Red Bull decided to give me a contract.”

Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool

The Red Bull Junior Team is notoriously successful at nurturing young drivers and bringing them through the ranks to Formula 1, and arguably has the highest success rate of churning out F1 drivers. Formula 1 is where Thompson’s eyes are set, but like many young drivers nowadays, he “would be happy to drive any formula for a living”. He hopes that with Red Bull’s backing, he will be able to achieve this dream.

Many of the other successful examples of graduates from the Red Bull Junior Programme act as inspiration for Thompson:

“Verstappen has done a fantastic job with Red Bull. I look up to him because he has achieved a lot in go karting. Ricciardo seems like a very down-to-earth character who I also have a lot of respect for.

“I also think Lewis Hamilton has done an amazing job and I look up to him.”

After a busy 2017, in which he won the IAME X30 International Final with Fusion Motorsport, Thompson is aiming for a few more years in karting with Red Bull’s backing:

“I will hopefully be competing at the highest level and this could lead into a single seater drive when I am around 15/16.”

We here at ThePitCrewOnline wish Harry all the success for the future, and if you want to follow his progress you can find his Facebook page here.

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